Orders, Decorations and Medals (19 & 20 March 2008)

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Date of Auction: 19th & 20th March 2008

Sold for £2,900

Estimate: £1,200 - £1,400

Military General Service 1793-1814, 5 clasps, Talavera, Busaco, Fuentes D’Onor, Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz (W. Gunner, Serjt., 88th Foot) suspension claw refixed, one or two edge bruises, otherwise better than very fine £1200-1400


William Gunner, a native of Crondall, Hampshire, enlisted in the 88th Foot in September 1802.

A Corporal by the time he was disembarked with the 1st Battalion at Lisbon in April 1809, he first went into action at Talavera that July, while in the the following year the 3rd Division, in which the 88th was brigaded, came under the command of Sir Thomas Picton, under whose leadership the Battalion developed into one of the best in the army, and were always to be found in the forefront of the battle.

In September 1810, at Busaco, the Battalion took part in a critical bayonet charge and received Wellington's special praise; in May 1811, at Fuentes D'Onoro, it was involved in further work with the bayonet, at one point disposing of about 100 Frenchmen trapped in an alleyway; and in January and April 1812, during the storming of the fortresses at Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz, it was one of the leading assault battalions: in the latter action, escalading the walls of the castle, in what was intended as a subsidiary attack, the 88th in fact succeeded in taking the ramparts, whereas the main assault failed - by an irony their opponents were the French 88th Regiment.

Casualties were again high, the Battalion losing 144 killed and wounded, among the latter being Gunner, who was hit in the left shoulder. He was invalided to England in January 1813, attended a Chelsea Pensions Board that October and was admitted as an out-pensioner on 1/- a day (WO 116/15 refers). Then aged 30 years, he had latterly served in the rank of Sergeant.

He died in Crondall on December 1853, aged 70 years.